Keep on the Shadowfell w/ Essentials, Part 2

Josh was able to make it this time around, rolling up a human warpriest of Kord, named Donner. While wandering around the forest aimlessly the party happened upon him and a considerable kobold warband. Aside from Delinth getting taken down by a critical ambush (I left some slyblades lurking in bushes), everyone was fine if a few healing surges worse for wear. After the mandatory talkery that always results in the player character joining the fray, they went through a few skill checks to see what happened en route to the kobold lair, and stumbled upon it without any additional random bullshit.

I'm sure I mentioned last time that I lost the map of the kobold lair, so we'd called it early, and since I couldn't find it I just drew up a new map that I felt worked a lot better. The trees were a lot thicker, and some slingers and slyblades were hiding inside at certain points (the skill challenge was to determine if the kobolds noticed them or not), the river shore had some rocks that could be used for cover, the river was deeper and in a few spots, required Athletics checks to swim across, and the magic circle was a bit further away and added +2 cold damage to all of your attacks (since the wyrmpriest was using it to craft a cold-based magic item).

The party tried to have Sand Stealth his way up the line, hoping to spread themselves out, but one botched roll later had him knocking over a dead tree, alerting all the kobolds to his general area, and startling a bear that was busy foraging for food. Riven bolted from the trees, making herself the only visible (and thus viable) target, and after the subsequent initiative roll saw her reduced to five hit points from a hail of javelins and slinger-stones. Due to the distance the rest of the party had a difficult time getting to her aid before she was taken down by a dragonshield, which was swiftly remedied on the following round once Donner got into the thick of things, muttering healing prayers and clobbering kobolds with his mace.

Sand tried to pick off the slingers using the trees for cover, Delinth managed to keep most of the kobolds from fleeing, though Riven's searing retaliation to the wyrmpriest's dragon breath saw it running for the waterfall, though the retreat was cut a bit short when Donner leapt upon it, mace crackling with lightning. In the end only one slinger managed to flee, and only because it was so far away and under cover of the trees. Picking through the corpses, they found a master's wand of scorching burst and skull that would let anyone wearing it like a hat use a cold-based dragon breath attack once per day. Basically, its the dragonborn's racial, just keyed to Charisma instead of Constitution.

Donner had noticed that there was a cave behind the waterfall, and assuming that's where the wyrmpriest was trying to flee, decided to explore it themselves. Having scrapped the original map, I went with something a bit more realistic in its layout. You know, varying height levels, winding tunnels, stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. There were three main encounters, with a few wandering kobolds that could detect them or assist in fights if things went way too smoothly. They couldn't take an extended rest, and after each fight I rolled to see if their short rest was interrupted as well. Sand took point to scout the place out, finding kobolds to the north, and tried to distract them with a thrown rock. It worked enough for him to stick a dagger in a dragonshield, almost killing it instantly. Donner polished it off, but was lined up perfectly for all the minions and slingers to almost kill him in one round. Unfortunately (again), they were lined up for Riven's scorching burst to almost kill them instantly. Fuck.

Wrapping things up, they noticed that one of two passages had light, while the other was cloaked in darkness. For some reason, they went with the darkness and strangely thought it was a bad idea only after discovering numerous humanoids entombed in ice along the walls. They still kept going, stopping only after running into a fledgling white dragon. Donner tried the route of Diplomacy, and considering that the dragon only demanded all their loot in exchange for letting them leave, I think it went well...that is, until someone decided to flaunt the skull they'd stolen. See, the dragon knew that it's wyrmpriest was making it, and after getting a decidedly unsatisfactory answer as to the whereabouts of his servant, decided to up the ante and amend the terms of their release to include the sacrifice of a party member. They prayed that he did not alter it further.

Donner voted for himself, but Delinth being a stubborn bastard was having none of this and charged the dragon. This is where things went downhill. Fledgling white dragons have an Initiative modifier of zero, and after a spectacularly shitty roll of 2 it was determined that I went last. Donner went up and used whatever the fuck it is that grants allies a +2 to defenses for the encounter, Delinth charged with poised stance, dealing 20 or so damage with power strike, Riven used fountain of flame (which to her chagrin did not target allies), and Sand got it into well past bloodied with a high roll from a shortbow attack that was coupled with Sneak Attack and backstab. This triggered bloodied breath, which hit only two people for 11 damage.

My turn.

Failed to recharge breath weapon. Miss twice. Action point. Miss twice. Action point. Miss (with bite, so only one roll, here). Try to move away from the fountain of flame zone into the water, which would give everyone cold vulnerability and slow them, take more damage in the process.

Their turn.

Donner hucks a javelin, game over in less than two rounds. FML.

They look the dragon's treasury for about a hundred gold, a gem or two, and a defensive hammer. I had them each roll on the level 1 table out of Rules Compendium, since I was changing everything on the fly anyway, so good for them. While trying to rest the last of the kobolds showed up, lead by Irontooth (a kobold that had eaten the heart of an iron dragon). They didn't get a chance to fully rest, and the fight was pretty brutal in comparison to the dragon. Riven almost got taken down multiple times, Donner ran out of heals by the second round, and Delinth really couldn't do any defender shit because most of the kobolds were on the other side of the freezing ass river throwing javelins and special stones. Josh played really smart, hucking javelins when melee was clearly a dumb avenue to pursue. He even had Delinth throwing them around, and I think with the lack of at-will exploits it was less of an issue since it in most cases meant a slight reduction in damage.

After slaying the last of the kobolds, they headed back to Winterhaven with more than enough proof of their deed (and hit level 2 in the process). The only other thing on their list is scoping out that ruined keep up north.

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